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Six Earnest MMO Holiday Wishes

William Murphy Posted:
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It’s that time of year, as we’re sure you know. Whether you celebrate it or not pretty much every media outlet is hounding you about Christmas. You’d think that maybe your local favorite MMORPG website would be a safe-haven from all things Yule. But then you’d just be plain wrong. Nope, no safe-haven here folks. We’re going to cram our holly jolly tidings down your throats just like the rest of the Western hemisphere. In the spirit of the merriest season of all, Jon Wood and Bill Murphy have put together a few of their most earnest MMO holiday wishes. Bear in mind that not everything we clamor for here comes entirely wrapped in a serious package, but instead take it with a heavy dose of spiked eggnog and plenty of Christmas cheer. Be sure you toss in your own hopes and wishes in the comments below. Merry Christmas and Happy Festivus to all.

An End to “My MMO is Better”

There’s an apparent need among all people and in all hobbies to argue about what is better than what else. We MMO fans are notorious, especially here on these boards, for this bickering. For my Christmas wish, I’d like (as my last column asked for) for us all to stop comparing and contrasting one another’s games in extreme hyperbole. I’d love for everyone to just get that all games have some merit, even if it’s not for you. But then again, I might as well ask for world peace or for the Browns to win the Super Bowl.

More “outside the box” MMOs

It seems that the pendulum has started to swing back to a more creative MMO philosophy with games like Guild Wars 2 and DC Universe on the horizon, each in its own way deviating from what has become the MMO design norm, the future seems bright for those who might be looking for a new massive multiplayer online experience. I wish for this to continue.

An End to “Lazy Devs”

I sincerely wish that the term “lazy devs” would jump off a cliff somewhere, never to be heard from again. Often called upon to work 15-20 hour days (consecutively) near the end of a project, to the detriment of family, friends and remembering what your kids look like.

I’m not saying that there aren’t reasons why things get left out of games, or they’re not polished enough when they launch, or they didn’t include the new class you were looking for, or any other myriad of complaints that inevitably result in someone saying that it’s the fault of “lazy developers”. I just think that perhaps a little more ire should be directed at deadlines, monetary concerns and the like.

In many cases, the people who actually make the games we play are under-paid and over-worked. Not a sweat shop by any means, and 90% of them will tell you that it’s a great job and that they wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. It’s what they signed up for, for the love of games. So yeah, not lazy.

More slack for Indy developers

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Most of the real innovation in video games is done through independent development studios. These independent studios are able to function without necessarily having to produce the largest dollar amount right out of the gate. They are also able to release new ideas and strategies without big publishers pointing at the most recent successful release and saying “make it more like that”.

The problem is that, at best, these studios are funded by a single person or small group of people. This means, nine times out of ten, that there is going to be a lot less funding available and so, out of necessity, the games are going to be smaller in scope, buggier, not the best graphics, and require a lot more TLC out of the gate.

Today’s average gamer, however, isn’t willing to wait around for a year or two, funding a project with subscription dollars until it “gets better”. The proof of point, however, is in EVE Online which launched a very small, very limited, very buggy product that has grown into one of the most successful long term MMOs ever.

So yeah, we should all cut these games some slack.

More show, less tell and Manage expectations

We’ve gotten into a rut with game marketing wherein we hear a lot about what the developers have to say about why their new, upcoming game is going to be awesome and innovative. The problem is, we often don’t believe them. Of course the marketing team is going to come up with a strategy that positions their game on top. That’s their job.

The problem is that we are told, over and over again how great the game is and how cool feature X is before we are actually shown anything that by the time we’re able to get our hands on it, it can’t possibly live up to the massive expectations we’ve built up in our tiny little minds.

Show us the game, show us the features, and then let us ask you questions, don’t so it the other way around.

Problem is, it’s really no one’s fault. This is just how things run.

Charge for value

What great and grand “guy from high above, on top the thing” decided that all subscription MMOs must carry a subscription fee of $14.99 USD? Seriously, how did that become the de facto price for these things? It’s silly.

Why can’t game developers look objectively at their product when they’re nearing the end and ask themselves what dollar amount per month would bring in the most players. Would more players play a game that is slightly less awesome than “the biggest thing running” if said game only charged $10 a month? Probably.

I’m going to go ahead and say it: Many MMOs out there just aren’t worth $15 a month to me, and I bet the same is true for you. That doesn’t mean they’re unplayable and should fail. it just means that if it’s not quite as good as “the biggest thing running” and probably shouldn’t charge the same amount.

So, what’s behind this? Is it executive ego, (My game is just as good as theirs)? Is it pressure from publishers or investors, (We gave you this money to compete with “the biggest thing running” and you didn’t measure up)? is the profit margin so thin for these games that they can’t make a profit at anything less? Or is it that we’re just so ingrained to the idea that a subscription MMO costs $15 a month that we can’t let it go?

Doesn’t matter. Someone more important than me needs to look into this, pronto.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.